Superheroes invade the summer screen
By Aaron Evans
Talon staff writer
This summer holds the release of four movies that are all based on comic book superheroes: Thor, X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, and Captain America: The First Avenger.
The characters that are featured in these films have been around for many years in comic book form, so if you wanted to get some background information of who these characters are before you see the movie it would make sense to start with the comic books.
Some of these characters have been around for 40 to 50 years and the task of finding the right story to read first can be daunting. The following listed stories are great new-reader friendly stories that are linked to certain characters and storylines of the films.
If any of these stories interest you there are many comic book stores and bookstores in the Twin Cities area and in suburbs where you could look for these stories and many others.
Also there are many other stories that feature these characters beyond the ones recommended here that are just as good.
The warrior Thor has been banished from Asgard by his father Odin and is sent to Earth, where he learns to become its greatest protector.
Release date: May 6
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Main cast: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings
About the books
Simonson’s Thor stories are pure fun. Each issue harkens back to the tales of Norse mythological gods. Even if you’ve never read Norse mythology you can still enjoy Simonson’s take on Thor.
This volume contains many of the characters featured in the movie such as: Volstaag, Heimdall, and the treacherous Loki.
This volume starts out with a bang. A new villain named Beta Ray Bill steals Thor’s hammer causing Thor to become powerless.
They later battle over the hammer to see who is truly worthy to possess it. If you enjoyed this first volume there are four more volumes featuring Simonson’s legendary run on Thor.
Another book in the saga is Thor: Ages of Thunder, written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Patrick Zircher, Doug Braithwaite, Clay Mann, and Dan Brereton.
In this book Thor is the beloved son of the all-father Odin and his battles and struggles have saved Asgard many times.
Thor had grown weary of rescuing Asgard time and time again and had decided to let the gods be responsible for the messes that they have created.
These stories highlight the strained relationship between Thor and Odin and portray how Loki revels in trickery and how these actions gets him and all of Asgard in trouble.
X-Men: First Class is a prequel to the first three X-men movies telling the story of how Magneto and Professor X first meet and become allies only later to find themselves as enemies. The movie is set in 1963 and features the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Civil Rights Movement and how the X-men deal with these events while dealing with a group called the Hellfire Club that has their sights on taking over the world.
X-Men: First Class
Release date: June 3
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Main cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, January Jones, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, Jennifer Lawrence and Lucas Till
About the books
Dark Phoenix Saga, written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by John Byrne and Terry Austin is a notable X-Men book.The Dark Phoenix Saga is a story of the X-men member Jean Grey losing control of her powers, because of the villain named Mastermind who is a member of the Hellfire Club, and becomes a threat to the safety of the world. The Dark Phoenix Saga is the first appearance of the Hellfire Club. This story shows how the X-Men deal with a member of their team and how heartbreaking it is to have to do the things they have to do to save not only the world, but a friend. Anybody interested in reading about the X-men should start here.
In Astonishing X-Men volume 1: Gifted, written by Joss Whedon and drawn by John Cassaday, a cure has been developed for the X gene that gives mutants their powers and the mutant community has to decide whether they want the cure or not. In this story, Whedon chooses to ignore the rather confusing crossovers and events affecting the X-Universe, which makes this a fantastic first read for new fans. Whedon does address previous X-Men stories from the 80s, but even if you haven’t read those stories he explains it clear enough so you can still enjoy the story.
Hal Jordan, a test pilot, is given a green power ring that grants him the power of the inter-galactic space force known as the Green Lantern Corps. He is tasked with the responsibility of keeping the peace in the universe while learning how to defeat the one thing a green lantern should never have: fear.
Release date: June 17
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Main cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, Tim Robins and Temuera Morrison
About the books
As the title of the comic suggests this is the modern day version of Hal Jordan’s origin of how he became a Green Lantern. Throughout the entire story Hal is narrating and the narration boxes look as if he is writing in a journal. You meet Hal’s friends, family, love interest Carol Ferris and even his first enemy, Hector Hammond who is the main bad guy in the upcoming movie. This is an easy read with art that is easy to follow for new readers. By reading this you’ll have a great grasp of who Hal is and what his goals and motivations are.
Another book to check out is Green Lantern: Revenge of the Green Lanterns, written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert.
Green Lanterns that Hal Jordan killed when he was possessed by the entity known as Parallax start appearing and the Green Lantern Corps begin to investigate. Hal has to learn how to forgive himself for his crimes as Parallax and begins to grow as a character. The whole story of how Hal became Parallax is retold so new readers aren’t left in the dark. This story expertly gives readers an insight into how Hal thinks and how he has dealt with his past sins.
Because of being rejected to become a soldier in the U.S. army several times, Steve Rogers volunteers to take part in a top secret experiment that turns him into the patriotic super hero, Captain America.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Release date: July 22
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Main cast: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Heaving, Dominic Cooper, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, Stanely Tucci and Hayley Atwell
About the books
In Captain America: Operation Rebirth, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Ron Garney, Captain America has been brought back to life and is immediately thrown into a conflict that could shape the world forever.
The tensions between Captain America and Red Skull are written well because they find out they have to work together to get the cosmic cube, a cube that has the ability to bend reality to the wielder’s whim. The quest of finding the cube and who uses it is exciting and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Another book to check out is Captain America: Winter Soldier, written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Steve Epting, Michael Lark and John Paul Leon.
The Red Skull, Captain America’s archenemy, has been killed by an unknown assassin and steals the Cosmic Cube from the Skull’s possession.
Captain America and his love interest Sharon Carter embark on a journey to find out who killed Red Skull and what the killer wants with the cosmic cube and what they plan to do with it.
During the search Captain America has recurring nightmares that mix his memories of World War II and the non-reality of those memories. The identity of the killer pits Captain America against something that goes all the way back to his frightening days in war back in 1944.
Comic Book Stores
Cedar Cliff Collectables
1960 Cliff Lake Rd # 131
Eagan, MN 55122-5509
Hot Comics and Collectables
Richfield location: 6609 Nicollet Ave S, Richfield MN 55423
New Hope location: 3532 Winnetka Ave N, New Hope MN 55427
Uncle Sven’s Comic Shoppe
1838 Saint Clair Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55105
Also check out